There is a popular saying in the cricketing circuit, ‘when in doubt, speak to the seniors…’. And over the years, several young Indian cricketers have taken this advice seriously and have reached out to the former players for suggestions on how to improve the game.
Mayank Agarwal is no exception. The 30-year-old opening batter – who scored an unbeaten century at the Wankhede Stadium on Friday – had a chat with Sunil Gavaskar recently, when the Indian cricket legend gave him a couple of tips, which eventually helped him.
Agarwal leads India fightback with century after Patel’s strikes
“Sunny Sir told me that I should consider keeping the bat a bit low initially in my innings. I have a tendency to hold it high. I couldn’t make that adjustment in this short period of time. But when he was saying that, I noticed his shoulder position and basically picked up that I need to be more side on,” Agarwal said after the day’s play.
The last couple of years were challenging for the Bengaluru-based cricketer as he failed to cement his place in the Test team, even though he had a successful stint in the IPL. But even in tough times, Agarwal did not lose hope and ‘continued to work hard’ on his process and his game. Ahead of the second Test, pressure was mounting on the opener, but he admitted that India head coach Rahul Dravid gave him enough confidence.
“When I was picked here, Rahul bhai spoke to me. He asked me to control what was in my hands. He said – ‘go out there and give it your best, when you get set make it big’. I’m happy to have capitalised on the start that I had. But that message was very clear from Rahul bhai (that I should make it count),” Agarwal said.
Asked about whether he changed his technique ahead of the second Test, Agarwal said: “I didn’t think of that. You don’t want to be thinking of these things or correcting the technique mid-series. Even Rahul bhai told me not to worry about my technique too much….”
At a time when Ajaz Patel sent three Indian batters to the pavilion in quick succession, the onus was on Agarwal to step up and he did that in style and launched a counter-attack against the spinner. “It was a conscious decision. He was bowling exceedingly well. But each time anything was in our half (our arc), the plan was to be a bit more attacking. Anything that came a little towards us in length, we were going to go for it. He had that phase when he tied us down, so it was a conscious decision to make it count when we could or each time he bowled it in our spot,” Agarwal said.
He admitted that the first session on Saturday will be crucial. “It’s going to be very important. How we start is crucial, the focus is that. The first session we want to play it out, the wicket is going to get harder and harder to bat on….”
The last time Agarwal scored a century was two years ago, and after striking form in style, the batter was happy to bring up his ton with a gorgeous cover drive off Daryl Mitchell. “It’s an amazing feeling to get a century in Test cricket and to get it in Wankhede is extra special…”